Early Termination Fees Illegal, CA Judge Rules

Californians fed up with being charged for ending their cell phone service prematurely won a major victory in a Bay Area court decision that concluded such fees violate state law.

In a preliminary ruling Monday, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Bonnie Sabraw said Sprint Nextel must pay California mobile-phone consumers $18.2 million as part of a class-action lawsuit challenging early termination fees.


This court ruling is so ridiculously huge. Right now, carriers leverage exclusive cell phones to force you into shitty 2 year contracts. The only good thing about it is your expensive phone will largely be paid for by the carrier. On the other hand you're stuck with a 2 commitment.

You ever notice how everywhere else in the world you can get any phone, throw in a SIM card and you're good to go with any carrier? That's the way it should be. Pressure needs to be put on carriers to make their service plans better. No more of this baiting people with sexy cell phones into a 2 year trap.

You want an iPhone? Go ahead and pop in your SIM card. Want a better plan? Just cancel your current and sign up with someone else.

It should be that easy.

Surely this ruling will be appealed, and it's only in affect in California. But this is just a start...hopefully it foreshadows a time when we'll see unlocked phones and real consumer choice in the US.

In the competition between PCs and Macs, we outsell Apple 30-to-1. But there is no doubt that Apple is thriving. Why? Because they are good at providing an experience that is narrow but complete, while our commitment to choice often comes with some compromises to the end-to-end experience.

—Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO

How to Cram 30GB into Your 8GB iPhone

Even though the iPhone 3G is all sorts of sexiness in a handheld device, memory is limited to 8GB and 16GB. That's fine for people with only 8 or 16 gigabytes worth of music and videos...but what about the rest of us? You got four options:

  • Buy a bigger iPod or mp3 player
  • Hold out a few months for a larger iPhone
  • Manually drag and drop songs you like, one by one, onto your iPhone
  • Use iTunes' Smart Playlists feature

I've used that latter option -- Smart Playlists -- for years, when I figured out a way to cram 24 gigs of music to a 4GB iPod mini.

The basic idea is this: you set conditions on what you want to hear and the Smart Playlists will automagically build itself. For example, I may want:

R&B, at least 3 stars, that have not been played in the past week.

To do this in iTunes, just click on File, then New Smart Playlist, and then fill it out accordingly:

Cool, huh? Now whenever you add music to your iTunes, as long as it matches these conditions, it will automagically get added to this Smart Playlist.

Here's what I did for my 4GB iPod mini back in the day:

Up to 4GB's of the most recently added songs that are rated at least 2 stars, that haven't been skipped in the last month, and haven't been played in the last week.

If you notice, I have Last Skipped and Last Played in there. These are what make it powerful; as I listen to music on my mini (and skip the ones I don't like), the Smart Playlist will essentially learn what I like/dislike and rotate in songs from my 24 GB library.

Easy as pie.

For more Smart Playlist ideas, check out SmartPlaylists.com

Rock On, Kid Rock

Kid Rock's reaction to Atlantic Records' request to denounce file sharing:

Wait a second, you've been stealing from the artists for years. Now you want me to stand up for you?

Kid Rock on downloading music illegally:

I don't steal things. I'm rich. [As for everyone else] download it illegally, I don't care. I want you to hear my music so I can play live.

Read on: Kid Rock Boycotts iTunes, Champions P2P


iPhone 3G

Let's start with the basics:

  • Black and White
  • $200 for 8GB, $300 for 16GB
  • Hits stores on July 11

Now for some of the stuff you probably don't know:

  • $30/month for Unlimited Internet — The iPhone is significantly cheaper for two reasons, the first reason being the iPhone is now subsidized by AT&T. The cost of unlimited internet increased to $30/month, up from $20. $30/month times 24 months = $720.
  • Good Luck Unlocking - Because AT&T is banking on your 2-year commitment, they're gonna be extremely anal about people trying to unlock their iPhones. In the previous model, you could buy the iPhone from the store, bring it up and activate it (or hack it). Now, just like any other phone, you have to get it activated immediately after you sign up with AT&T.
  • GPS = Convenient, Stalkerlicious - With the built-in GPS, you're gonna see all sorts of apps that take advantage of geo-location (knowing where you are). When you take pics, it'll know your exact coordinates of where you took the pic. Want to see reviews of all the restaurants around you at any given moment? Done. Want to track where your friends are? You could fire up an app and see their locations on Google Maps. "Dude, why the fuck are you at my girlfriend's house?!"
  • 32GB by February? - Apple is pretty good about updating their products at regular intervals. iPods tend to get updated in September in preparation for the holiday season. September is a little too soon for an update, especially since the 3G isn't hitting stores until July 11. But January is a nice time to introduce an update because that is when Apple holds its biggest conference.

My final verdict:

People that have an iPhone...just keep it. Have a little self-control (I know, it's hard) and hold out for the next minor update, which should be coming sometime early next year.

Everyone else? $200 and $300 is a fucking STEAL compared to all the other stuff that is out there. It's an iPod + a phone + a web browser + a portable YouTube player (which is great for laughs at parties). All you Facebook whores will love it too.

2012: The End of the Internet

Net Neutrality

As Josh pointed out the other day, Time Warner is launching a test program where they will throttle down people's internet, enforce a bandwidth cap, and charge for overrages.

What does this mean to you?

This means that ISPs (Internet Service Providers) are planning on controlling what you can and cannot do on the internet. This means that they can choose what sites you can and cannot visit. This means they want to kill the fastest, greatest, most democratic form of communication the world has ever seen.

And this isn't the first time in history we've seen this happen.

When radio first came out, anyone and everyone be their own radio station. They could broadcast freely, speak their mind and do whatever the hell they want. Freedom of speech at its finest.

And then the FCC came along and said, "Alright, no more pirate radio. If you want a radio station, you have to pay us a shitload of cash." So what happened? All of the fun, off-the-wall, liberal-minded radio stations were shut out.

The same exact thing happened with television. Look at it now...the media controls the information that the public consumes.

FOX Television have a problem with Ron Paul? No problem! They just cut him out from debates and downplay anything significant he does.

George W. Bush wants to impose Martial Law? No problem! Just don't mention it in the news.

Does Ron Paul really know what he's talking about? Does Bush really want to impose Martial Law? Maybe, maybe not...but either way, we don't get to decide for ourselves because the media controls what we see and hear.

So back to Time Warner...let's say that this Time Warner experiment is profitable. If other ISPs buy into it, the internet you know and love today could become like cable television:

Facebook and Google? No problem! Just pay for the basic internet package and you're good.

Little sites like the577.com and www.melmyfinger.com? Sorry but by 2012, you might have to pay a premium to keep enjoying 'em...

Thank You, Nine Inch Nails

Nine Inch Nails - The Slip

While the RIAA tells you it's illegal to rip your music CDs to your iPod, proposes a $5/month Music Tax and an iPod Tax, Trent Reznor says "download it, remix it, share it, post it on your blog, play it on your podcast, give it to strangers, etc"

Here's what the official website says:

as a thank you to our fans for your continued support, we are giving away the new nine inch nails album one hundred percent free, exclusively via nin.com.

the music is available in a variety of formats including high-quality MP3, FLAC or M4A lossless at CD quality and even higher-than-CD quality 24/96 WAVE. your link will include all options - all free. all downloads include a PDF with artwork and credits.

for those of you interested in physical products, fear not. we plan to make a version of this release available on CD and vinyl in july. details coming soon.

I'm not a particular fan of Nine Inch Nails, but I'm a huge fan of people that stick up for the little guy.

Thank you, Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails. You guys fucking rock. :bigthumbup:

What happened to the design?!

melmyfinger.com naked!

Don't worry, the design is stripped down just for the day. Here's the explaination by Lorelle:

This is the third year of the annual CSS Naked Day which honors web design and designers around the world who help make our websites and blogs look "pretty" to the eye while still being totally functional under the hood. Dustin Diaz wanted to give the web world an opportunity to remind everyone of the benefits of CSS web page design. By removing the stylesheet for the day, the world would see naked web pages, giving a little more appreciation for the skills of web page designers.

As explained yesterday in the Blog Herald announcement of CSS Naked Day, this is also an opportunity to showcase how usable and accessible your web page structure is even without the pretty, reminding the world that it is the law that your website must accessible by everyone using any method to access your blog.

Over 1814 blogs are participating! (I'm #974!)